Below is an excerpt of my peace featured on Endow Voices answering this important question.
Q: In light of this years Women’s march I’m reflecting and often encounter how to be a strong pro life voice amongst my pro-woman friends? We are all pro-women but their stance seems to be all encompassing of reproductive rights and sense of anger that I don’t share. I feel like as a catholic woman I am very pro woman in a much more true version of the meaning, but how do I merge the two? How do I balance both worlds? How do I be pro-life amongst them not against my friends and colleagues?
A: Articulation A Pro-Life, Pro- Woman Mindset to a “Reproductive Rights Feminist”.
This is a great question. Don’t we often want to say to other women, “But I’m pro-woman too!” I often tell women that I am a feminist and their shock bridges the conversation to differences in positions. What we mean by this is that our pro-life and natural sex mindset (aka no contraception) is what’s best for women. We want other women to know that all women deserve better than abortion. Furthermore, the so-called freedom the reproductive rights mantra offers is not women’s liberation but instead leads to a path of heartbreak and regret.
We begin by having courage to speak up with the goal of a dialogue. You already know you’re right. You’re not fighting whether or not you are. It’s time to rewire our mindset entering into the missionary field: You are entrusted with friends, colleagues, and maybe even family members you care enough about that you want them to share this truth and even the gift of a lifestyle that you know leads to happiness.
Coming from a place of love, rather than being right, opens the door to your ability to listen and find common ground. (God provides a mission not only for the other person, but also for you to grow.) You don’t think you have any common ground? Let’s slow down to speed up. You’re a woman and want what’s best for women. Just because your lifestyle of pro-woman beliefs looks different from theirs doesn’t mean you’re ill-equipped to respond to what may seem a pack of angry vipers at times.
Listening and asking questions can be your tool to guide the conversation. Ask questions that make your friends break down their mindset. This opens the door for the other person to see for herself a faulty reason, lack of support for the position, or a misguided good intention. Speak to what they say and then compliment and purify their good intentions in the right direction. Then shut up! This allows them to ask you questions or to sit uncomfortably with their thoughts. You don’t have to change a mind right away, but instead offer an open door for further dialogue. You’re planting a seed.
You can converse about rights, law, fetal development, types of abortion, post-abortion syndrome, miscarriage, premature babies, carcinogens, and whatever neat apologetics tool you have up your sleeve. Start with what you know. Humbly admit when you need to get back to someone with more evidence or a clear answer. Please don’t forget to follow up.
Finally, tell stories and allow women to tell theirs.
A public debate was held between myself and Professor of Women’s Studies, Cecili Chadwick, at Cal State San Marcos on A Woman’s Right to Choose. After continuously criticizing the Catholic Church during the cross examination, Professor Chadwick mentioned that she had faced an unplanned pregnancy and adores her child from that pregnancy. She couldn’t imagine having aborted her child. Instead of taking the bait and running down the path of defending the Church, I simply asked about her story. From a formal debate “win or lose perspective that’s not really how it works. She was deeply moved and emotionally shared her testimony. I can tell you that her testimony of choosing life was the story the hostile pro-abortion audience left with.
Entering Into The Mission
Remember, you will always think of a better thing to say after the discussion has ended, but your kindness will be a part of the long term impact you have. Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
You are chosen to be a part of those conversations, but you are never alone! Ask Our Lady to be in the room. Then – implore the Holy Spirit to be in your mind, on your lips, and in your heart.
Resources for the journey:
Link to San Diego Union Tribune newspaper piece Timmerie wrote countering Planned Parenthood’s on reproductive rights.